Time Management Strategies for Online Courses
3. Student Orientation to the Online Classroom
To ensure successful completion of an online course, students should receive an orientation to their learning environment. Even with the tech-savvy youth of today, many students feel uncomfortable outside the familiar surroundings of the traditional classroom. Consider some of these tips to assist in orienting your student to this new environment.
Consider having the first class session on campus at a computer lab.
Students can be shown how to log in to the course and then given the opportunity to navigate through the course menus. Demonstrations could be given on the use of online tools such as the discussion board, email, uploading and downloading of files, and course navigation while providing students hands-on experience.
Create a cd-rom tutorial that is given to each enrolled student.
The cd-rom would contain tutorials on the login process, navigating the course website, and the use of the course tools that will be used, such as the discussion board, email, and others. Additional material might include links to campus helpdesk functions, FAQs, student services, university library, and others. The cds could be handed out during the first-week of class during an on-site orientation, at the bookstore, or snail-mailed to students registered for the course.
General Discussion Forum
Set up a discussion forum for general questions and insist that students post general course questions to this forum first before asking the instructor.
Students will usually have the same questions. This type of discussion forum will allow fellow students to answer the questions of classmates.
Require that students complete a series of simple assignments during the first week of the course using the various course tools to demonstrate competency.
Assignments can include an email message introducing themselves to the instructor (email tool), the posting of a short bio of themselves to a discussion forum (discussion tool), the uploading of a short (one page) summary of their reasons for taking the course (file uploading). Consider developing other similar assignments for other tools that may be used.
Ensure that students know who to contact for technical support questions by including email addresses and phone numbers of technical support staff.
Avoid having the students contact the instructor directly.